Word Count: 2566
Disclaimer: Not real, not mine, not making money from this.
Summary: A re-examination of London Spy from Alex's perspective.
The trails of light which they seemed to leave behind them in all kinds of curlicues and streamers and spirals, and which Gerald in particular admired, did not really exist, explained Alphonso, but were merely phantom traces created by the sluggish reaction of the human eye, appearing to see a certain afterglow in the place from which the insect itself, shining for only the fraction of a second in the lamplight, had already gone. It was such unreal phenomena, said Alphonso, the sudden incursion of unreality into the real world, certain effects of light in the landscape spread out before us, or in the eye of a beloved person, that kindled our deepest feelings, or at least what we took for them.
-- Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
It's something he dreams about with irregular frequency.
Alex's profile folded up in the trunk, sheen of sweat, textbook-perfect musculature on display. His eyes are closed but his breathing is too deep for sleep. He starts to stir, moans, a parody of sexual pleasure. He traces his fingers along the insides of the trunk, back and forth, back and forth, the way an ant will march the perimeter of dry land enclosed by water. He is frightened, Danny can tell, his eyes are squeezed way too tight, as though such an act might push him deeper into sleep and prove this all a dream. He pounds those perfect hands against the lid and cries out, but Danny cannot go to him; he is transfixed in a vantage point of light, heart rent and mouth dry in his voyeuristic enjoyment of a naked man in a sealed box. How much of him is culpable, how much of him the grieving romantic? Alex is sobbing now, reduced to snot and spittle. It dawns upon Danny that if he could just find a way to turn off the light he might save the man he loves. After all, lies and truths are but half-brothers in the dark. The light, he thinks, the light, and then the locks, sprung open to expel the torrid truth that a man can be condemned by his own invention within the lurid dimensions of the public imagination. The light, the light, Danny searches frantically as Alex starts to scream, but then he too is in the dark and cannot get his bearings, much less locate the switch. He stretches his hands out to embrace armfuls of air, helplessly watching as Alex turns his face to him and stares, neither accusing nor absolving yet no less arresting in a drawn-out fermata, the abyss Danny once thought he had averted now gazing back at him, and he awakes.
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